Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Original title: Ivanovo Detstvo
USSR, 1962. Mosfilm, Trete Tvorcheskoe Obedinenie. Screenplay by Vladimir Bogomolov, Mikhail Papava, based the story Ivan by Vladimir Bogomolov. Cinematography by Vadim Yusov. Music by Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov. Production Design by Evgeniy Chernyaev. Film Editing by Lyudmila Feyginova.
Andrei Tarkovsky’s international breakthrough provides the viewer with all the stultifying imagery of his later films at barely half the length. Ivan is a pre-teen boy orphaned by war, who keeps himself busy by running covert spy operations against the Germans. He shows up at a barracks on the Russian front demanding to speak to his superior officer, who reacts to this young boy by questioning the wisdom of putting someone so young into battle. The theme of innocence in the face of devastating evil is an obvious one, particularly given the way it all turns out, and yet Tarkovsky never applies a didactic manner to the proceedings.Instead, the lyrical images, including gorgeously shimmering lakes and expressionistic renderings of the child’s lightning eyes and shock-blond hair, compliment the subtle and quiet way in which he details the inhumanity of humanity itself.
The Criterion Collection: #397
Venice Film Festival Award: Golden Lion (tie)